Monday, March 02, 2015

Marching On

Yay.  February is over. 

I hate February. This year has been especially trying from a trying to keep myself up and happy point of view, but I made it.

The sun and early (very) spring has been a great help. 

What does all of this early spring mean for the late spring and summer? As a gardener, I'm delighted and scared that the summer will be long and dry. I'm scrambling to figure out what to plant and how to mitigate for any long dry spells.  I'm also using some of my newly acquired spare time to work in the garden to clear away debris, mulch like heck, decimate weeds and pull out the things that I do not love in the garden.

While I can't control the weather, I can control to some extent what I cultivate and want to make it the best year we've had in a while. 

I've been reading a lot about organization, decluttering and productivity and trying to apply some of these principles to my life at home, but also to the garden and how I approach this craft.  

My biggest concern is not getting so in the weeds (HA), that I lose the big picture view of what the garden means and how it functions.

More on this later.

March is moving forward - this is my favorite month of the year - it is our New Year and that makes me happy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How to not be a wall flower

To be blogged

I listen to the radio in the car when running errands, this is not helping me to get through my goal of listening to my whole iTunes collection sometime this year.  I think I have something like 35 days of music.

I typically listen to the local NPR station and was fortunate enough to get to  listen in on the Gardening Panel a few years ago.  The subject of hellebores came up and how to grow them. I have to admit, I listened closely.  At one time in my life, the hellebore was my holy grail plant. I thought only expert gardeners could grow them, they were mysterious and so gorgeous.  They are one of the first things to bloom in the early winter garden and if you are lucky, their gorgeous seed pods will see you through until June.  They are both delicate and hard as nails depending on the kind you have growing in your garden.  Some of the more fleshy varieties, such as the Corsican hellebore  (Helleborus argutifolius) look down right alien depending on the size and placement in the garden.  I suppose it is partially due to the climate in Corsica and CAM metabolism, but let's not go down the plant photorespiration cycles of my misspent youth.  

The more delicate forms (Hellebore niger) Christmas Rose and these are the kind I and many other gardeners cherish.  They flower stalks pop up in early January (or earlier) and wow you with amazing displays of flowers ranging from clear whites to dark purples with all sorts of strange crossings that occur. They emerge right when we are starting to lose hope that anything will emerge from our damp soil.  These hellebores are not difficult to grow, just find a few smallish plants you like at your local plant sale, put them in the ground in a location with partial shade and remember to water while they get established. 

Here's the thing about hellebores - they older varieties of Hellebore niger are really really shy plants -with flower stalks full of gorgeous flowers that spend most of their lives looking down at their feet.  In order to take in their beauty, you have to lift up their chins and give them a good look.   They remind me of someone who just can't seem to get it together and summon the courage to say "HELLLLLOOOO WORLD" look at/to me."

It takes an persistent person to keep lifting up these flowers to see their beauty and qualities.  The other option is to cut the flowers off and float them in a dish of water to get a good look.  In both cases, you see all the beauty, variation and details of the hellebore.

The newer hybrids that are being bred for their lovely flowers that tilt upwards to reach the sky or look you right in the eye. Pow. There is nothing shy about these beauties.  While the ones I have seen seem to lack some of the delicate grace of the Hellebore Niger, they still are lookers that last for months. 

I realize that there is something  aloof about not showing off your colors, spots or petal count.  I wonder if this is such a good way to go on the world - remaining quiet and retiring and letting others capture the glory, the spotlight, the credit, when you may have spots, color or some other feature that deserves attention

It might not be such a bad idea to start breeding in new habits into your life.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


My wicked cold remains wicked, but at least it is now just in my nose. I'm not sure that is good or bad. I am going to offer my seat opponent a nice chocolate bar and some hand sanitizer for having to sit next to me for eight hours. I'm also going in search of a nice sinus pressure reliever for my flight. That should be fun!

Friends, wash your hands religiously, drink lots of fluids, get lots of sleep and never don't touch your eyes with your fingers, especially after taking public transport. I have managed to stay healthy more months if not nearly a year by doing these things,  but something out there caught me off guard this time and I'm going to fight to keep myself well for the rest of the year.

Sunday, you were awesome, what I saw of you after I stayed in bed until the last possible moment before my check out time.

Saturday, February 07, 2015


I ate a lot of lemon cake today 

I read a lot. 

Slurped noodles and did nothing. 

I highly recommend it. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Buy this now - the St. Valentine's Day edition

You could always just buy your true love some bubble wrap to keep the plants warm and toasty, Chelsea Physic Garden, 2015.

I'm not much for St. Valentine's Day as it is gushed and shoved down our throats by my kindred marketers.  I hate watching desperate people flocking to the candy store or into lingerie stores looking for a little something at the last minute. St. Valentine's day is a foreign concept in Iran, but one my mom worked hard to integrate into our childhood.  I loved getting little presents from her - little notes or new pjs.

I was not a terribly popular kid growing up and didn't get tons of cards or had sweethearts in my youth who cared about such things, as a result my feelings about the holiday soured until I met TH. She was skeptical about the holiday as well. Over time we both warmed up to the holiday. For the past twenty plus years,  we've enjoyed some nice dinners, bought flowers or plants near the day and exchanged some lovely mementos that we both still use.

I think on our first Valentine's day she gave me a flat bladed shovel.  Romantic? To me, yes. Practical? Hell yes. I still have that shovel and use it often.

As I walk around the gardens of the Shires, I wonder what I would get a gardener to celebrate the holiday - something that would last and be special. I have spent a little time today listing a few of these. It may be too late to order some of these things for delivery next week, but the gardening season is coming up and lasts a while, so I'm sure they will still be appreciated.

Here's my favorite wash basket that we use for carrying seedlings, shears, and seeds to the garden and fill up with produce on the way back. It is sturdy, gorgeous and goes well with your wellies.

I can't live without my Felcos.  I have to change out the blade occasionally, but these size 6 right handed pruners are by my side or in my skort all summer long.

I cannot get enough of seeds from  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, especially these chicories or these Renee's garden sweet peas.

I do wear gloves when I garden and these are the best I've found. They go right into the wash and hang dry. Do yourself a favor and buy two pairs.

If you love a good garden book with some awesome recipes, I highly recommend finding a used copy of this great book by Christopher Lloyd.

If you want to read about an amazing story of gardening and family, pre-order my friend Tara's book The Orchard House and go to her Seattle reading.

That garden spade - it is still worth a million boxes of truffles.

Go out, get dirty and then get romantic.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Snowdrop Mania

I'm in London for the next few days partially to clear my head, but really to see the snowdrops that are popping up all over gardens in the UK.  I love snowdrops. I have a few different varieties in my garden, but nothing like the crazy number that are cultivated here.

I wish I could take them home, but I can't.

They are some amazing beauties.

Follow me on instagram to see my latest pictures.  Today I visited the Chelsea Physic Garden and got to talk around with the head gardener to hear what he liked to see in the winter garden.  Some of his choices were amazing and gave me some great ideas. He also hit upon something that I have queued up and ready to go for next week - the new hellebores.

Tomorrow, I'm going North to Cambridgeshire to visit Anglesey Abbey and their gardens. I'm really excited also because I haven't been to Cambridge in a really long time.

Saturday, I'm off to Welford Park in Berkshire to see their collection. It is a little crazy to get places like these houses and gardens without a car, but I'm going to give it a go.  It was gorgeous and a little chilly today. I believe Saturday is going to be much the same.

I am debating if I want to add two hours to my visit.  The thing is that even with a tea room, I'm going to be freezing and a little bored. The buses are conspiring against me in this case. If I feel like I was shorted, I'll just come back next year with TH.  Every place I go I wish she was here.

Ack, it is nearly midnight here. Time to hit the hay.


I would share the photos, but they are taking their sweet time to upload, so I'll add them later.


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Two letters, one sentence.

I really meant to write this post on January 2, but then I got busy with AMS and soon the job thing followed.  I didn’t get a chance to share with you what I believed then and still believe is my “Focus” word for 2015.

That word is NO.

One of my childhood friends stated recently that No is a complete sentence in two letters.

Saying No means that I will not overcommit and under deliver which disappoints both of us.

Saying No means that you have more time in your life for the Yeses that are important and usually come after someone hears you say No.

Saying No does not mean that I’m being selfish with my time, nor being a slacker and pulling my weight.  This year it means I am being more thoughtful about the choices I make, the projects I’m willing to take on and the people I’m going to spend time with in 2015.  To me, by saying No I’m going to do the best that that I can and give what I can give.

I wish I could say it was a more cheerful word like embrace, joy, smile or what what, but it is what it is.

I say yes to that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Sunday, February 01, 2015

A month late

The last month has been a bit of a trial.  I'm still working through it. I'm happy to say I'm healthy as a horse and my family is fine.

My job, however, is not.

I knew working at a startup was going to be risky, but I was willing to take that risk.

I'm happy to take it again.

I learned so much and I can give so much. I just need to figure out the best way to approach my next opportunity.

More later.

I'm challenging myself to write everyday this month. I missed it last month.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The day

Has been long and so much to process!

I'm in Phoenix, away from my home, but blessedly with TH and my friends.

I'm happy to be part of this amazing community of climate scientists, meteorologist,  and some of the smartest people in the room.

Thursday, January 01, 2015


The first thing I baked in 2015 was sweet and fresh. I am hopeful that this year will be much the same. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter's Light

Ernest basset does Rudolph. 

Does a week's absence from writing makes the heart grow fonder? I know I missed writing, did you miss reading?

I'm still battling a cold I picked up somewhere over the Atlantic. I'm very glad it is nearly over. For the first time in a long time, I decided to forgo all social activities and lay low. It's amazing how that helps.

I missed the longest night. I missed decorating many cookies. I missed shopping.

I'm not sure how much I missed shopping.

I hate the frenzy of shopping that happens this time of year.

The panic that sets in because you think you need to pick up a present for someone.  I used to be a person who was completely afraid of offending someone by not buying an extravagant gift or forgetting every possible permutation of relative or distant friend I might run into during the festive period.

I have long given up on such things and I hope as we all get older and hopefully wiser, this is happening to you as well.

Panic, anxiety and guilt are things we don't need to box up and present to others or put ourselves through this time of year.

I'm trying to relax, breathe, not jump to conclusions and stop being my own worst critic when it comes to holiday cheer.

Perhaps being in a good mood and being present is the best thing you can give to anyone this year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Wrap Up

Penguins - all of them are mine. Patrick Roger, St. Suplice, Paris, Dec. 2014.

Discovering the joy of chocolate shavings on buttered toast made with Pain Polaine
Not seeing the top of Tour Montparnasse due to heavy fog
Seeing the Christmas decorations in all the shops without shopping
Stocking up on punitons and salt (that I guess is shopping)
Watching a movie in English with French Subtitles
Being happy to go home because I get to return soon

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Friday

Went Paddington hunting -- 

and was marginally successful. 

I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Too tired to even type.

Musee de l'art modern, Paris July 2014.

I'm off to London tonight.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Patience and the Parking Place

Sometimes all I need to do is stand where I am to be blessed. - WORD. May 2014. 

This time of year is a test of my patience and I'm sure yours.

Lines are long, people are desperate to get things right, expectations can be high because the holidays are supposed to be perfect. Right?

I can do without all that. I am impatient and I like to get things crossed off my list.  Mainly, I just want you to finish your shopping, go to the car, drop it off, take your shopping cart back, get back into your car, start the engine and drive to your next destination. It is that simple - shop, load, return, leave.

It just doesn't happen like that any more.  Now we do our shopping usually while taking a phone call, pay for our groceries without interacting with the clerks or cashiers,  dump our stuff in our car, get in our cars and .... JUST SIT THERE checking our mail, tweets, stocks and snap chats until we're happily caught up with the world that we just interacted with 10 minutes ago.

There are others who need that parking place.

There are other shoppers who would love to move freely around the store without you blocking the aisles talking about what you are having for dinner.

I have now given up any hopes of getting a parking place by stalking a driver with bags going to their cars. I figure I'll just earn a few more fitbit steps by parking further in an already vacant stall and save myself the aggravation of watching your fiddle in the blue glow of your screen.

I'm not immune to this either, but watching others has made me so much more self aware.

You can either let it go or be like me and just go further.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Top Ten gifts for your dog - From Ernest

Ernest basset esq. and his chicken. 

E is guest blogging today - He dictates and I type.

We are pet crazy here in the USA. Annually,we spend over $500 per household on our pets. I think in Seattle we're especially fond of dogs and my devotion to Ernest the puppy is pretty evident in the number of toys I seem to be tripping over in the middle of the night.

Every year, E gets a stocking full of treats, a squeaky and a small check that goes towards his college fund from my parents.  He has a stocking at home as well and it is always fun to fill it.  There are lots of cool things out there for dogs these days beyond the Nylabone and Chuckit toy to outfit your dog for the year.

Without further ado, I present Ernest's Holiday gift list for your well-appointed hound of a certain age.

1. Bassets get cold in the winter - here's my favorite lounging around the house outfit  - The Teckelklub Fuzzie, its way nicer than your Snuggie. 

2. If you are going to force me to go out in rain, I might as well stay dry with this cool Ruffwear Jacket.   

3. I love a good bed including yours, but you snore.  This bed is as comfortable and the cover comes off for you to throw in the wash - Memory Foam dog bed.

4.  Thanks for keeping me itch free  by bathing me with this awesome shampoo.

5. And safe with a  Buka-lite collar that lights up for those dark mornings and evenings. 

6. Now you are making me eat kale too? Kale treats from our friends at Wet Noses. 

7. 30 minutes of day of lap/cuddle time without you staring at your phone/tablet, its better this way.

8.  Walk me somewhere I can meet and greet other people and get treats and you can get some exercise.

9.  Take me the groomers on a regular basis to get my nails clipped so I can stop clicking on the floor and wake you up. I promise not to bite them.

10.  Donate a bag of dog food to other puppies who are not as fortunate as me - Mudbay taking in collections for 32 different organizations right now.

Happy Howlidays.

Ernest basset esq.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday wrap up

Garden clean up is both a drag and very rewarding at the same time, January 2014.

300 bulbs planted
many presents wrapped
3 pounds of maple walnuts made
two dogs walked
one baby feted
zero naps taken

It is going to be a long short week.